How to organize items that didn't exist a couple years ago


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Initial post: May 21, 2010 10:02:55 PM PDT
Kathy Kirk says:
Like Ms. Critical, I have tons of organizing books and binders, but "was still searching for the magic one", if it existed, to help me get and stay organized.

I used to be very well organized. I had a place for everything and everything was in its place.

Then I not only became ill but also saw a huge spike in the number of new and improved products on the market, many of which I use and couldn't do without.

I know that my ability to organize and put things away has diminished greatly due to chronic pain and other incurable medical/health conditions that make me feel dead most days, without energy, stamina, endurance and "life force", preventing me from even combing my hair or brushing my teeth.

Along with my lack of energy and constant pain, I have a problem deciding on a "home" for items that didn't exist when I learned how to organize in childhood. In fact, this has been a problem for me for at least 20 years, if not longer. I used to keep warranty information and manuals in file folders, but today that's not enough. In fact, quite a few companies I have contacted in the past few years about an issue or problem insisted I should keep the entire box in which the product came! I never did that in the past and certainly would have no idea where to store something like the entire box for a microwave oven. Does the book address the issues I mentioned above?

Thank you to all in advance for your help and time.

Posted on Jun 2, 2010 6:01:52 PM PDT
Hi, I don't know if my answer will be helpful or not, but I hope so. I'm disabled myself. Some days just brushing my teeth feels like a victory. I'm not sure if the book addresses the issues you have, I just wanted to share what's helped me get organized and stay that way in our technology-crazy world.

I wouldn't keep the box items come in beyond thirty days from the purchase date, unless you have a move coming up (and the date is set, it's not just "maybe I'll need this someday"). Whenever you do need to move, or mail the product back to the company for repairs (which isn't too often, hopefully), the post office, movers, FedEx or UPS can provide you with the appropriate size box, padding or envelope for the item. It isn't too expensive to do that.

As for my warranties and handbooks, I do keep them in a file folder next to my computer. I did however separate them by item and put them in manila folders- one labeled for my vacuum cleaner, one for my coffeemaker, cell phone and so on. This makes it very easy to locate the warranty and/or handbook for a particular item. If applicable, be sure to write the serial and/or model # in your handbook/warranty papers. This will greatly ease the paper nightmare, especially if you end up needing to call a company for repairs. I was grateful I'd done this when I had to call Dell last year and have my hard drive replaced.

I also keep the receipt from when I bought the item for only thirty days. The exception to that rule (for me) is if the item costs more than $75.00, in which case I keep the receipt as long as I have the item. That way, you always have proof of where it was purchased- and making the original box it came in almost certainly unneeded. You could also scan the documents to your computer and back it up to disk, if you are that organized and want to go paperless.

Not everyone likes her, but I really have to credit FlyLady (who has an online program for free) for helping me stay organized. I clean out one desk drawer or file folder (either paper or computer) every night. I wake up each morning, make my bed and do a brief cleaning in my bathroom (just using a Lysol wipe on the vanity and a squirt of toilet bowl cleaner and the bathroom stays pretty nice). I brush my teeth, wash and moisturize my face, brush my hair and get dressed for the day, down to lace-up shoes. It's not easy some days. But having the routine makes my life so much easier. I then lay out tomorrow's outfit, grab a load of laundry, and start the washer. I get a cup of coffee and my breakfast and then check my emails and bank account. This is not to brag about my daily routine- it took me a couple of years to get this down, and I'm still not perfect about it. But it really gets my day off to a good start if I do it. Before I leave for work, I empty, load and/or run the dishwasher, as needed. I usually put my laundry in the dryer and away after I get home from work in the evening. I also put on a little makeup and spritz some perfume.

When I get home from work, I remove my shoes, socks and jewelry. I throw my laundry in the dryer. I go through my mail, write out any bills, make any phone calls and respond to any correspondence. I charge my cell phone and iPod. Once they're charged, I put them with tomorrow's outfit. I work from one room to the next, straightening up, replacing dirty towels in the bathrooms, taking glasses back to the kitchen and so on. I handle the dishwasher again and get dinner started. If I need to thaw meat for tomorrow night's dinner, I put that meat in the fridge as I'm cooking my meal. After dinner, I wash any dirty pots and pans, deal with the dishwasher for the last time, wipe down the counter and stove, dry the sink with my dishtowel and replace the kitchen towels. I check my email again, relax for a bit, then shower and dry my hair, heading to bed as early as I can. I make sure to put my laundry away first, though.

I learned from her a few tricks to de-cluttering and organizing. One is a 27-Fling Boogie. I just go around the house or sort through a drawer and throw out or pick 27 items to donate. Then there's a 2-minute Hot Spot clean-up. Just pick a pile that's cluttered up and clean it off/sort it for two minutes. It makes a HUGE difference. Then there's the 5-minute Room Rescue- awesome. It's amazing what can be done. I can almost always get a room straightened up and dusted, for example, in that amount of time. Give me fifteen minutes and I can get it vacuumed, too. I make sure to take a 15-minute break after working for 45 minutes.

I keep my stationary, address book, envelopes, address labels, postage stamps, a notepad, a fun novel to read and some office supplies in my "office in a bag". It's a zippered binder with nice pockets in it and I own two of them. I carry it with me and utilize it's contents in my downtime. I use the other binder for recipes I print off the Internet. I three-hole-punch them and put them in the binder, by category (chicken dishes, dessert, vegetable dishes, etc.).

FYI- Suze Orman and FlyLady both have great lists of how long you need to keep various documents (tax papers, mortgages, etc.).

The book "Speed Cleaning" by Jeff Campbell is great for learning quick and thorough weekly cleaning techniques, and www.thecleanteam.com is a great website with cleaning products and de-cluttering techniques. Sunday's my weekly cleaning day.

Sorry that this was so long, but I hope this helps some! :)
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Initial post:  May 21, 2010
Latest post:  Jun 2, 2010

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Organize Now!: A Week-by-Week Guide to Simplify Your Space and Your Life
Organize Now!: A Week-by-Week Guide to Simplify Your Space and Your Life by Jennifer Ford Berry (Hardcover-spiral - December 3, 2010)
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